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Booking for Bernina Express

Melbourne, Australia
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Booking for Bernina Express


How far ahead would you advise booking a seat Chur to Tirano? I was looking on the Rhaetian Railway website and when I went to the sales section, after putting in the date, it said 7 free seats in both 1st and 2nd class. I will be travelling in July 2014. Should I book now or wait?

Would I need to book the Bernina Express bus at the same time? I'm undecided on where to go after the train arrives in Tirano, possibly Lake Como, Venice or Florence.

Thank you.

Old Town Chur
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Obere Gasse
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1. Re: Booking for Bernina Express

There is absolutely no need to reserve this trip in advance. There are many trains every-day (one per hour), the only difference between these trains and the actual "Bernina Express" train is that the BE train has panoramic window cars. ...but trust me, the view from the "normal" cars is just as good ...and usually way less crowded.

From Tirano you only have 2 choices by train - back to Pontressina/St.Moritz - or SW to Milano. By bus you can get to Aprica, then change busses to Erdolo, and then get a train to Brescia (where you can connect again to the TrenItalia networks and go on to Venice)... complicated ...and always fun in Italy.

Hope it helps.

St. Moritz...
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for St. Moritz, Engadin St. Moritz
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2. Re: Booking for Bernina Express

I agree with canswiss, however from Tirnao you still have another option - the one you mentioned, the Bernina Express bus to Lugano. This however is one bus per day, connecting to the BEX only, and it is just an extension to the Bernina line to allow visitors to get to the Ticino (Italian speaking part of Switzerland) without much hassle. This bus however has to be booked well in advance, as there is just the one and if tour groups book it, there is no alternative.

For your train itinerary see www.sbb.ch

The itinerary via Edolo mentioned by canswiss, while rather complicated and with some changes, is a very scenic one if you have time. Otherwise travel via Milano.

Edited: 04 December 2013, 09:46
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3. Re: Booking for Bernina Express

Would it not be better to have the larger windows and a seat reserved on the preferred (left hand) side for North Bound travel on the Bernina Express? 14 francs doesn't seem like much for a reservation. Is the ticket itself cheaper if you don't use the Bernina Express cars on the train, or take another train without it? I plan to buy my ticket all the way through Milan-Zurich if possible.

I want to be open minded about this and appreciate the advice to take any train, but also want to maximize my experience since I've waited a lifetime to do the Alps train.

As I am a budget traveler, are there any suggestions for a stopover enroute for the most spectacular scenery yet a budget lodging choice?

Finally there are several times this is asked on the web but never answered before the thread is closed: how do I determine which seat to take on the Bernina Express reservation map when it doesn't show the direction the car is headed like the Golden Pass train does? I believe I want the left side going north from Tirano to Zurich.

From there I am taking point-to-point trail to Vienna on jet train, Krakow, Warsaw, Berlin. Any other tips?

Thank you, fellow travelers!

Edited: 05 March 2014, 19:50
England, United...
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4. Re: Booking for Bernina Express

Yes, the left is better for some of the highlights of the trip. Personally we have always gone in the ordinary carriages where we can sit on the left for some of the time and the right for some of the time depending on what's going past. The ticket is the same price whichever option you choose, there's just a more expensive reservation fee in the panoramic carriages.

You could of course choose the carriages with no windows (or roof), a much better view but cold and wet sometimes.

Melbourne, Australia
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5. Re: Booking for Bernina Express

" how do I determine which seat to take on the Bernina Express reservation map when it doesn't show the direction the car is headed"

This is something I would like to know too. Yesterday I reserved my seat (2nd class) it was showing 4 seats available, all of them were on one side. Today going back to check something, I notice it says there are 11 seats available. I am heading south from Chur to Tirano and I'm pretty sure my seat is on the "wrong" side, that is the left side. Sigh! I even thought of asking could I change my reservation but I don't think that is possible. I did email the website asking which seats were forward facing, but they replied they didn't know.

That aside, while I know many people say the normal train is just as good, runs every hour, is less crowded and the windows are openable, for me, this is a once in a lifetime trip and I would prefer to travel on the Bernina Express with the panoramic windows. It just makes it a bit more special like. The only difference in price is the booking fee.

When I made my reservation, they emailed me saying the seats would be available for purchase from 10 May onwards.

I recently booked a lovely old hotel in the Old Town of Chur and mentioned the Bernina Express. They advised me to book in advance.

Does anyone know if the train stops for 5 minutes or so along the way to let you get off for a bit and take photos and have a bit of a walk around?

Plano, Texas
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6. Re: Booking for Bernina Express

I am trying to get the same info as well - how do I determine which side of the carriage would fall on right or left as it doesn't show the direction of the train? Folks who already booked and traveled - please help from your experience.

Plano, Texas
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7. Re: Booking for Bernina Express

We will be visiting Zurich in August for a (couple of days only) and Bernina express is the main reason. We have made a reservation on the Bernina Express for August 16.

We need to get back to Zurich the same day, So we purchased a roundtrip ticket for Chur-Tirano-Chur from rhb, but only made seat reservation for Chur-Tirano (in the 2nd class panoramic carriage) for now. I am assuming we would also need to make another seat reservation for Tirano-Chur return segment if we wanted to return in the panoramic carriage, correct? But before I make that reservation, I wanted to find out what would be best option to return the same day and is it at all possible to take a different route to Chur from Tirano?

Plenty of seats are still available on the return Tirano - Chur panoramic carriage and we don't mind the cost either keeping in mind the comfort of a 7 year old and my wife I am travelling with if there is no other route. However, how do I determine which side of the carriage would fall on right/left during each segment when reserving? Since you have already booked in the past, you may have some idea. Does the entire train turn around at Tirano or just the engine part? i.e., if I reserve the seats on the same side both times, will it fall on different sides while going and coming back due to train turning around?

8. Re: Booking for Bernina Express

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